PositiveFinancial Times (UK)In his third collection of short stories, Kevin Barry reveals himself to be quite the romantic ... In all its manifestations, however, Barry keeps his take on the romantic tethered to humour and to his remarkable rendering, without crass mimicry, of the dialect of the west of Ireland, where most of these stories are set. Where there is a romantic impulse there will be excess of feeling, and Barry exploits the comedic opportunity exquisitely ... The Ireland in which Barry sets these stories is both the old and the new, and the latter could be anywhere: flat whites, refugee detention centres, russet fake tans. The old, though, is more revered—notwithstanding the occasional friendly gibe[.]
Sayaka Murata, tr. Ginny Tapley Takemori
RaveFinancial Times (UK)As sole narrator, Natsuki relates all this in a spare, blunt tone that appears to hide nothing. The transparency of Murata’s prose and dialogue is jarring, seeming to rob the reader of all rights to interpretation. Yet what it really does is repeatedly throw us off balance—such matter-of-factness is dizzying. What are we to think of a character who has earned our sympathy yet whose unflinching take on a parent’s grief is: \'Humans got really worked up when an organism that had inherited their genes was killed\' ... What happens when they return to Akishina is shocking, hilarious and hugely, darkly entertaining. Murata has crafted an unforgettable, original hybrid of absurd fantasy and stark realism.
PositiveThe Financial Times (UK)... fluent and openhearted ... Alphonse’s legacy is a handy device, a place in which to lay bare the inequalities born of shade ... There are mild flaws: Stella doesn’t come across as the enigma other characters believe her to be; and, implausibly, she embarks on a late academic career, as if a college campus carried no risk of detection. But even a novelist must struggle to occupy the mind of a character who has forced her own emptiness ... Over five decades the societal backdrop is just that, present but never foregrounded. It doesn’t need to be. Progress and the lack of it are manifest in each character’s life chances. Who gets to thrive, to be believed, to be where and who they want to be — all still determined, Bennett attests, by the entanglement of history and power. The time for unravelling that morass is long overdue.
RaveFinancial Times (UK)\"If literary prizes were awarded for the best opening lines, Leah Hampton would be a bookies’ favourite ... by turns smart, funny and moving ... Hampton’s figures are also alert to connection with a little-known other, or with nature. And in these vignettes of their lives, it’s impossible to not care about each one of them ... Hampton challenges the stereotypes of the region and its politics ... Hampton sketches plots part-told, connections half-formed and breaking points near-reached, yet each of these stories is complete, and marks the arrival of an incisive new voice in American fiction.
PositiveThe Financial Times (UK)Seeing the world through these characters’ eyes demands a lexicon of low expectations. Rape, abuse, molestation are shown in all their ugliness, but not named ... Stuart has written that his own mother was an addict, and he dedicates this novel to her. In his fiction, the scenes of Agnes’s downfall are pitch-perfect: bitter, humiliating, but never judgmental ... Stuart’s writing can over-enunciate the emotive socio-economic failings...but much more often, delights lie in unexpected places ... this is a dysfunctional love story — an interdependence whose every attempt to thrive is poisoned whenever a drink is poured — but here, between a boy and his mother. Stuart’s debut stands out for its immersion into working-class Glaswegian life, but what makes his book a worthy contender for the Booker is his portrayal of their bond, together with all its perpetual damage.
PositiveFinancial Times (UK)Brown explores a deep connection with the ground and what lies beneath, with a past that is buried yet scattered in the air above ... poems offer blunt interrogations of everyday all-American values; paint intimate portraits of queerness; study the lingering complexities of a mother-son relationship. Throughout, Brown’s voice is searing, powerful and, even in hopelessness, beautiful.
PositiveThe Financial TimesLike her compatriot Kevin Barry, McInerney writes in local vernacular, with a smattering of Gaelic. Her cynical voice is pitch-perfect for a community left behind by a Church that has done its damage and a Celtic tiger that has made a dash for the airport. There are minor flaws: it jars when these characters refer to 'metaphors,' and there is a hastened tying of loose ends. But this is a rich, touching, hilarious novel.
RaveThe Financial Times... here, Yanagihara carries us through nightmarish scenarios not only with beautiful writing but also with a group of four instantly engaging characters who together form a collective, sympathetic protagonist ... Nonetheless, with such heavy layering of brutality, knowing what’s coming can remove the desire to read on; more than once I held A Little Life with shaking hands. Yanagihara has a particular ability to conjure the type of person we would all rather pretend did not exist ... Yanagihara stretches our empathetic elasticity even to painful limits; when the nightmare is over, we are armed with a new flexibility ... Emerging from horror, persistent and enduring, is a touching, eternal, unconventional love story.